Study Abroad: Conclusion

To the city that stole my heart, you will be missed. Although I don’t know when we will meet again, I think a little piece of me will always be in Edinburgh. I adore this city and all it has to offer and it breaks my heart knowing that I must leave it.

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Ok so this post marks the official end of my study abroad journey. I can’t believe that my time abroad is coming to a close, but I am excited that I got the most out of my my last few weeks here!


In that past 4 months I have traveled to 11 different countries: France, Austria, The UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy and Spain!

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I have learned so much in just under four months in Scotland. I can confidently say that now I can…

  1. Hear different “British” accents and have some idea where they are from.
  2. Successfully pack 4 days worth of clothing in a small carry-on backpack
  3. Navigate through the Edinburgh airport early in the morning
  4. Cook for myself- sort of- still working on that one
  5. Cross streets in the UK by looking Right then Left
  6. Get creative with my limited wardrobe
  7. Search for cheap flights on skyscanner like a boss
  8. Budget my money
  9. Navigate through new cities with the help of google maps offline areas
  10. adapt to the UK school system

 

IMG_0740.JPGNow, clearly I am no expert on all things study abroad, but my time in Scotland has given me a new perspective. This semester has helped me take a step back from the Georgetown bubble and reevaluate what is really important to me. I have gotten to experience things I never imagined I would and met some amazing people along the way.

Thanks for keeping up with me on my crazy Scottish adventures!

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Weekend Trip: Milan

So now for the second leg of my pre-finals trip! After a early morning train from Geneva, we arrived in Milan!

I am so happy that I was able to visit Italy this semester because I took a trip around Rome, Positano and Capri with my family a few summers ago. I loved exploring Italy and couldn’t wait to see what Milan was like.

The trip got off to a rocky start when one of my friend’s wallets was stolen on the metro on our way to our air b&b. Fortunately she still had her passport with her and kept a great attitude the whole trip! Shout out to Greer Richey for being a true superstar (check out her blog about it here).

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So now for some good stuff: Milan was incredible! Seriously one beautiful city. Our Air b&b was in a great location, right next to the Duomo and it was super easy to walk everywhere around the city!

We spent a good amount of time walking through the Galleria and admiring the designer stores. It is true folks, Milan is the fashion capital of the world for a good reason. Although the prices were way out of my budget, I had fun looking at the couture fashion.

 

 

We then walked to the Sforzesco Castle and meandered around the grounds. My favorite part was the architectural juxtaposition in Milan. I walked past modern skyscrapers and ancient ruins all in one day! We took some time enjoying nature in Sempione Park, which reminded me a lot of Central Park in New York City.

Walking through the park we ended up at the Arco della Pace. No, these pictures were not taken in Paris! Although at first glance the arch looked very Parisian, this was in fact constructed in 1838 and its origins can be traced all the way back to ancient Rome!

So a thing that we do in all European cities is, we climb things! Yup, just like in Geneva, my friends and I decide to wake up early on Monday morning to climb the 919 steps of the Duomo. The view was amazing from the top and made this one of my favorite things I have climbed in Europe.

If you visited Italy and didn’t take a picture of your food, did you even go? Well, I unfortunately ate most of my food so fast that I forgot the all important food picture. Instead I only have this one pizza picture, but let me assure you that the food in Milan was spectacular! Seriously, after eating Italian food in Italy you can never go back to Dominos, at least not right away!

Well, that is it! My semester abroad is winding down, but I still have a few more trips planed, so stay tuned!

Day Trip 4: Ferney-Voltaire, France

On Saturday we decided to venture out of Switzerland into France for a little fun!

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After only a 30 minute bus ride we crossed the border into the quaint french town of Ferney-Voltaire. We spent the next several hours exploring the world famous farmer’s market and eating tons of free samples.

I struggled to remember my Middle School level french, but managed to kind of communicate with the vendors. After a few failed attempts to ask questions in broken french, most of the vendors spoke English to me, but at least I tried!

With only 3 euros to my name, I set out to accomplish the classic french market lunch- bread and cheese!

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Being the bargain hunter that I am, I somehow managed to barter with one of the vendors (in French!) and got brie cheese and a fresh baguette for only 2.70 euros!

Pro Tip: All prices are always negotiable, even in France, so be confident and try your hand at some good old-fashioned bartering, who knows, you might save some money!

After a successful french lunch, we headed back to Geneva to explore the city for one last time before we sent off for Italy the next morning!

Weekend Trip: Geneva

So in typical study abroad fashion, while everyone was spending hours in the library studying, I spent my revision time traveling.

This was one of the longer trips I have been on: we left for Geneva on Friday morning, took a train to Milan on Sunday morning, and flew back to Edinburgh Tuesday afternoon.

The city of Geneva is situated around the curve of the beautiful lake Geneva, and in the middle sits the Jet d’Eau. This fountain shoots 130 gallons of water per second 460 ft in the air.

We spend the weekend exploring the city, but by far my favorite part was climbing the St Pierre Cathedral. Once we got to the top we could see all of Geneva around us, and the sky was so clear we could even see the Alps in the background. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and if you look closely you can even see a bit of a rainbow by the Jet d’Eau

No only was the view of the city beautiful, but the architecture of the Cathedral was not too shabby as well. I loved the way the sun was shinning into the building and reflecting off the windows!

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I know what you are thinking, oh my gosh, is this the famous Last Supper painting? But wait, isn’t that painting in Milan, and you are in Geneva? Well, some of us didn’t get to go to see the Last Supper in Milan, so we decided to recreate it in Geneva, what do you think, the resemblance is striking right?

Fun Fact: The European headquarters of the United Nations is in Geneva!

Other Fun Fact: There is a statue of giant a 3 legged chair in Geneva!

Both of these facts a equally interesting, for different reasons of corse, but did you know the link between the two? The Broken Chair Statue, which stands in front of the Palace of the United Nations, symbolizes the plight of landmine victims and encourage States to commit themselves to the prohibition of cluster munitions.

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I had a great weekend in Switzerland, now it is off to Milan!

Stay tuned for my next day trip and weekend trip blog posts!

Road Trip Wrap Up

Well folks, we did it! We drove all the way across the country and finally made it to Seattle, WA!

We have learned so much this past week and want to pass on some tips and tricks for traveling cross-country. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to road trip in style:

When you see a gas station, fill up your tank!

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Even if it is just a couple of gallons, it is better to be safe than sorry, who knows when you will see the next gas station (head up: it could be a long long time if you are in Wyoming)

If you are feeling tired, change up your soundtrack

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We listened to Hamilton (several times), Taylor Swift, and a whole lot of One Direction.

Pack a cooler

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Make sure you bring plenty of food! We brought a ton of apples, chips and pop corn.

If your hotel has free breakfast included, eat it! 

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By day 2 or 3 we really got our mornings down to a science. Wake up, pack the car, and then go eat our free hotel breakfast! You can count on a decent waffle most places.

Take a bunch of pictures

Or even better, blog about your travels!

Visit Some Corny Billboard Attractions

The Mid West is full of billboards advertising the same few place over and over again, seriously there is a billboard for Wall Drug over 500 miles away from the actual store. We stopped by Wall Drug and the Corn Palace (both in  South Dakota) and had a blast! These stops don’t take that long and are usually right off the highway.

Buy a few small souvenirs to give to friends and family

Don’t go crazy and buy everything in the gift shop, but purchasing a few small things can be a great way to share your travels with others!

Clean your windshield when you get a chance

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When traveling across the country, the windshield of your car will become a bug magnet, for the sake of the car window Instagram, clean it off! Or even better, go to car wash at the end of your journey and show your vehicle some love!

 

Thanks for following us on our journey across the country this summer, we had so much fun blogging along the way!

Road Trip: Day 6

On day 6 of our Road Trip Adventure, we woke up in chilly Big Sky, Montana, where it was a mere 39 degrees outside. We put our warmest sweatshirts on, loaded up the car, and got back on the road again, this time heading for Spokane, Washington.

After we were reunited with our favorite road, 90 West, which we have been traveling on this entire trip, we listened to the complete Hamilton soundtrack (again)! We drove through the northern part of Idaho, and after 7 hours we arrived in Spokane, Washington!!

We checked into our hotel and then set off to Liberty Lake for our mountain zip line tour! We had been looking forward to this activity all week and were very excited (and a little nervous) to go! After we arrived at the Mica Moon Zip Line office and went over some safety stuff, we set off to the mountain. Our guide drove us up a very bumpy (but fun!) mountain road in a van, and then we got out and put our helmets and harnesses on. Our guides then loaded us into UTVs and drove us up an ever bumpier but much more fun road to the top of the mountain. Think Indiana Jones – that’s basically how we travelled 🙂

We started off on some smaller, lower zip lines, later progressing to longer and higher ones. Each zip line had a fun name and story behind it, and our guides made us do some silly actives during our zips, like singing or dancing. In fear of dropping our phones and losing them forever, we did not take any pictures on our zip line tour, but check out this video below from the Mica Moon company!

The last two zip lines were our favorites. We were around 500 feet off the ground and potentially going 50 mph. The views from the zip lines were amazing! We had so much fun zipping around the mountain and totally recommend the Mica Moon tour!

After the tour we stopped at Chipotle and got some much needed dinner. We then headed back to the hotel and prepared for the last leg of our journey to Seattle.

Stay tuned for some posts about our time in Seattle as well as a behind the scenes look at what it really takes to drive across the country!

 

Road trip:Day 5

Sorry for the late post, day 5 was just so full of adventure we feel asleep right away and didn’t have time to write. Anyways, like I said, day 5 was so much fun!

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We started the day in Cody, Wyoming and after an amazing breakfast at our hotel headed off to Yellowstone National Park.

 

We entered the park through the East entrance, and after about a 30 minute drive happened upon some park wildlife. Yes folks,  we saw a bear! It was walking around a hill on the right side of the road.

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After we took some pictures of the bear from the safety of our car we continued driving through the park until we saw a bunch of cars pulled over in front of us. There was a pack of wild bison drinking water 50 feet from us! (Ali is kinda obsessed with Bison, and Tori is kinda scared of them). We walked a safe distance toward them and snapped a couple of pics!

We continued through the park and stopped at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Fun science fact: a geyser is a hot spring in which water intermittently boils, sending a tall column of water and steam into the air. Yellowstone is full of really awesome Geysers! Here is a video we took!

We drove over the continental divide (kinda underwhelming) and stopped at Cascade Falls to have lunch. We ate in the parking lot in fear of the bears (for Tori at least) and then started the Lone Star Geyser Hike. This was about a 5 mile roundtrip hike with a beautiful river next to it. Once we made it to the Geyser, to our dismay, it was 2 hours till the next eruptions. Another fun science fact: Geysers usually erupt on a timed schedule that can range from minutes to hours. We took some pictures of the Lone Star Geyser, but sadly decided to continue on our Yellowstone adventure rather than wait for the eruption.

Next we got ice cream while we waited for Old Faithful to erupt. Old Faithful is one of the most popular attractions at Yellowstone and had many information available for best viewing the eruptions. While we waited about 40 minutes we got ice cream and walked around the area. The wait was worth it when we finally saw the eruption! Here is a video!

After that we visited the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was a rather windy day, so the steam coming off of the springs was kind of in our face. We decided that the steam smelled like a mixture between hard-boiled eggs and ham! Anyways, the Grand Prismatic Spring was really cool because it was rainbow colored!

Our last stop in the park was the Fountain Paint Pot. This was a collection of mud and rock geysers of all shapes and sizes. Here’s a video we took of one!

We ended our day in Big Sky Montana. We got dinner near the mountain and then immediately fell asleep in our super comfortable hotel beds!

Stay tuned for the next (late) post!

 

Road Trip: Day 4

Greetings fans! We have passed the halfway point of our Westward journey. Today, we left Hill City, SD and headed to Wyoming! So many sights to take pictures of 🙂

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We drove across the SD-WY border and into the Bighorn National Forest. After spotting some buffalo (Ali’s dream come true!), we drove over some mountains (Tori was too scared, so Ali took the wheel). We stopped for lunch at Shell Falls, since we obviously wanted to keep the waterfall trend alive.

We received numerous warning signs about the “very high” fire danger, which was a bit unnerving . However, the only things on fire were our snapstories 😉

We continued to Cody, WY to find our hotel for the night. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, our planned lodgings for the night turned out to be a trailer park (hotels.com can be misleading folks!). Luckily, a nearby Best Western had an open room, and we quickly relocated.

After resolving the stressful hotel situation, we ate a delicious dinner at The Millstone Pizza Company & Brewery in Cody. Real food is amazing (we have been living off our Trader Joe’s run from last Saturday in MA).

After dinner, we made our way to the famous Cody Nite Rodeo (did you know Cody is the rodeo capitol of the world?!). This rodeo was everything we ever dreamed of. Cowboys as far as the eye can see, cowgirls in sparkly pink outfits riding around with flag-style advertisements for local establishments, bucking horses, bucking bulls, and even some clowns. Our only regret was leaving our ten-gallon hats at home – we had to settle for some classic Western braids instead.

After some pre-rodeo rituals, including some bad jokes, a stadium-wide prayer (“It’s a shame prayer has been removed from our schools and government, but they can’t take it from our hearts” – Rodeo announcer), the National Anthem, and cowgirl horseback flag-advertising, the rodeo officially started. We were in awe of the cute cowboys who managed to hang onto bucking horses and bulls with only one hand! We witnessed a few nasty falls (the child devision was a bad idea – stay in school kids!), but overall it seemed like an awesome athletic event. Apparently there is even college-level rodeo out here #America

Check out some of our epic rodeo videos:

The rodeo really tired us out – check back tomorrow to hear about our adventures in Yellowstone!

 

Road Trip: Day 3

On day 3, we woke up in Sioux Falls ready to go (changing time zones can do that for you). This day was jam-packed with awesome stops. Check out our photos!

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Okay, Ali was ready to go, but Tori was a little sleepy this morning 🙂

Once we got on the road, we made out way to the world’s only Corn Palace, after seeing numerous billboards advertising its existence. The Corn Palace is a large building completely covered in corn. Different colored corn is used to make intricate patterns and murals on the walls. Although it was kind of corny, the palace was still a-maize-ing (you know you love these puns).

Next, we made our way to the Badlands National Park. For most of the morning, we drove through the flat, grassy plains of South Dakota. However, after a short detour off I-90, the rocky hills of the Badlands rose out of the ground before us – absolutely incredible! We took a short hike, and Ali did some off-roading climbing (leaving Tori in the dust). We even saw rams, prairie dogs, and antelope!

After the Badlands, we journeyed to Wall-Drug, the business behind the most popular billboards of South Dakota (they actually started advertising for this store 400 miles ago on I-90). Wall-Drug, which advertises free ice water and 5-cent coffee, was definitely a unique experience. It is a shopping center featuring leather goods, a Jackalope (a jack-rabbit with antelope antlers), an ice cream parlor, various buffalo patterned socks, a scary T-Rex, a mini Mt. Rushmore, and SO MUCH MORE! If you ever find yourself in South Dakota, chances are you will end up at Wall-Drug, because you can’t resist stopping by after the plethora of billboards #effectivemarketing

Next, we ventured to Mt. Rushmore (where we finally learned which four presidents are featured). We originally planned on continuing to Crazy Horse Memorial, but we were so exhausted that we decided to stop at the Desperados restaurant instead for some much needed dinner. If you are ever in Hill City, be sure to check out this restaurant – it’s so good, and it has vegetarian options!

It’s not even 10 PM, but we’re going to head to bed before our journey to East Yellowstone tomorrow (stay tuned for a potential rodeo!).